In a filing made Monday with the federal district court, Bloomington has given its required paragraph-by-paragraph answer to a lawsuit filed against the city by Schooner Creek Farm (SCF), a vendor at the city’s farmers market last year.
SCF was also approved by the city to be a vendor at the market this year. The city sent SCF a letter saying SCF was accepted as a vendor and admonishing SCF about some violations last year.
With its Monday filling, Bloomington has also made counterclaims, and is asking for a judgment in its favor, based on the farmers market contract that SCF signed for last year’s (2019) season.
The contract includes a clause that the city is analyzing as prohibiting SCF from filing a lawsuit in this circumstance. The clause says that vendors “will not institute any action or suit at law or in equity against the City or the City’s agents or employees as a result of operations under this Agreement.”
A different clause in the 2019 contract forms the basis for a second counterclaim by the city. The clause requires vendors to indemnify the city of Bloomington.
It was in 2019 when protestors showed up at the market on several Saturdays to call for a boycott of SCF, after local activists pointed to evidence that SCF owners espoused white-supremacist views.
Details of the drive-through-only approach were revealed in a press release issued late Wednesday this week. Orders for this coming Saturday, April 4, the scheduled opening day of the summer market, have to be placed by the end of the day on April 2.
Also in future weeks, the market will operate on a Thursday ordering deadline for Saturday pickups.
In a 3–0 vote at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Bloomington park commissioners approved a reduction in the fee that food and artisan vendors are supposed to pay for their space at the Bloomington farmers market.
The new official fee for the 2020 market season will be 7.5 percent of gross sales, which is 2.5 points lower than the fee that was charged in previous years. It’s not as much of a reduction as the farmers market advisory council had recommended, which was 5 percent this year, with an eye towards converting it to a flat fee.
It’s not a fee that’s going to be charged, though, according to Becky Higgins, recreation services division director. The market won’t be able to operate as it usually does, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bloomington park commissioner Israel Herrera asks questions of protesters at the Feb. 25, 2020 meeting of the commission.
Protestors stand and offer sustained applause for park commissioner Israel Herrera’s vote against the new rules of behavior.
Bloomington’s board of park commissioners voted 2–1 on Tuesday night to adopt new rules of behavior at the city’s farmers market. Dissenting was the newest board member, Israel Herrera.
The rules specify how and where protests are allowed at the farmers market.
Herrera told The Square Beacon after the meeting that his vote was based on the concerns that meeting protestors had conveyed—from the public podium and their seats in the audience—about the possibility of increased police violence in the coming season, due to the new rules. People who speak up should not be forced to shut up, he said.
The food and beverage artisan area at Bloomington’s farmers market during the 2019 season.
The dark blue is the amount of revenue generated by food and beverage vendors at Bloomington’s farmers market.
Bloomington parks commissioners from left: Les Coyne,
At the podium is Eric Schedler, of Muddy Fork Farm & Bakery, who advocated for a reduction in fees for food and beverage artisans at Bloomington’s farmers market.
At its Tuesday meeting, a short-handed board of park commissioners decided on a split vote to reject the city staff’s proposed fee structure for food and beverage artisans in the coming season at Bloomington’s farmers market.
Bloomington parks and recreation staff will now work to come up with an alternate fee structure proposal for food and beverage artisans.
Five protesters who were arrested at Bloomington’s farmers market on Nov. 9 last year, will not be prosecuted for their actions, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning by Monroe County’s prosecutor. They had been given summonses for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
The protest got national attention in part because of the inflatable purple unicorn costume worn by one of the protestors.
In the statement from the prosecutor’s office, Monroe County’s prosecutor, Erika Oliphant, is quoted saying, “My office has evaluated the specific facts and circumstances surrounding these citations, and we have decided that it is appropriate to decline prosecution in this instance.”
The specific facts of the situation included protest activity—holding signs and loud singing inside the market vendor area—directed at the Schooner Creek Farm stand. The owners of Schooner Creek were identified by local activists earlier in the year as having ties to a white supremacist group.